Split ELA: Writing and Reading: Re-Imagining Literacy as Student-Driven

What we do in a nutshell.

In a student-driven instructional model, teachers co-create the curriculum alongside students. Our priority is to understand who our students are and want to be and, on that basis, create a transformational environment through which students can see themselves reflected in what they choose to read, write and discuss. Using a socio-constructivist pedagogy, instructional outcomes prioritize students learning how to learn with peers, processing through challengesโ€” from problem identification, to application of resources or strategies, to creating solutions through trial-and-error, rather than relying solely on the teacher as the โ€œexpert in the roomโ€.

Purpose & Goals:

  • Choice: Curriculum that is responsive to student needs is driven by student interest and increases autonomy
    • Essential for developing both intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy 
    • Focusing on autonomy, shifts instruction to students learning through their own choices, including mistakes. (Ryan & Deci)
  • Individualized, Mastery-Based Pacing: A mastery-based scope and sequence through two tandem courses allows the pacing and mastery to be increasingly set by students as opposed to an arbitrary timeline, and teach students to self-assess, set goals and manage time — time to make sense of texts, to explore their own thinking and work through their reading and writing selections. (Aukerman; Dweck)
    • Prioritizing small group instruction and 1:1 conferring, and minimizing undifferentiated whole class instructional time.
    • CCSS embedded in outcomes that spiral (9-12) 
  • True Peer Collaboration: In a dialogic, rather than monologic class, peer-mediated learning is key for learning content and language, and development of the self as part of, and responsible to, a larger community (the reader/writer interpretive community, but democratic society as well). Students largely direct themselves through selecting both independent and group texts, create, and lead their own groups relying solely on 3 rules. Studentsโ€™ sensemaking is honored as a necessary process for self-expression, and learning to unpack complex texts strategically. (Aukerman; Erneling; Reznitskaya)
  • Experiential & Project-Based: Students work through goals set by themselves, their data and goals of the class in a workshop style; more time for students to be working and teachers to be listening and guiding. In this way, classroom work habits reflect real-world work habits (Aukerman; Stockman).
  • No More Deficit-Models: Teacher Growth through Responsive Teaching: A dialogic instructional model trains teachers to focus on what students are actively doing now instead of what they โ€œcanโ€™t do yetโ€, and to build on those strengths by offering students greater opportunity for decision-making and then following into how students are engaging with complex texts, tasks, or with open-ended student discussion. Teachers then develop responsive instruction that honors the learning processes of each student. (Aukerman, Reznitskaya)
    • Non-traditional lesson planning and scope-and-sequences that emphasize learning, activities or routines for practicing and mastering skills that spiral up to CCSS expectations, rather than an arbitrary, predetermined curriculum.

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